Schaap, Jody Neal (2003-05). Ranges, movements, and spatial distribution of radio-tagged Rio Grande wild turkeys in the Edwards Plateau of Texas. Master's Thesis.
To determine possible causes of declining Rio Grande wild turkey (RGWT; Meleagris gallopavo intermedia) abundance in the southern Edwards Plateau, research was conducted on 4 sites, 2 with stable (S [SA and SB]; Kerr and Real counties) and 2 with declining (D [DA and DB]; Bandera County) RGWT populations. RGWTs were trapped, radio-tagged, and tracked. Ranges were constructed with 95% kernels. Data on brood survival and invertebrate and predator abundances were combined with range characteristics to assess habitat at a landscape scale. Annual range sizes did not differ in year 1, but were larger in S than in D in year 2. Range sizes in S increased from year 1 to year 2 while there was no change in range sizes in D. Range overlap was higher in D than S in both years. Movement distances remained consistent in S for both years, but were larger in D during year 1. During year 1 and year 2, RGWT females exhibited larger reproductive ranges and less range overlap in S. Invertebrate abundance for 4 insect orders was 2.5??15.9 times greater in S than in D while coyote abundance was 2??3 times greater in D than in S. Results were similar in year 3, with the exception of SB, where reproductive ranges and spatial arrangement were smaller than all other sites. My results refute the conventional assumption that larger ranges are indicative of poorer habitat quality. Range overlap suggests that useable space may have been limiting in D in the less productive year 2. In D, multiple broods used the same reproductive range, presumably depleting resources faster than in S. Greater predator abundance in D increased the risk of brood predation. The smaller reproductive spatial arrangement of SB females in year 3 correlates there being >3 times the percentage of females missing in other sites. If SB females moved further in year 3 than the detection distance of the radio telemetry equipment, the results would fit the pattern of greater dispersion distance in SA. RGWT females may attempt to separate themselves from other breeding females, possibly to avoid nest or brood predation and/or potential competition for brood resources.